I haven’t posted in more than a month. I spent all that time selling a house in the exurbs and moving to an apartment in Cambridge. Economists grouse that people aren’t willing to move to where jobs are, but they discount the sheer human cost moving extracts from us. Between working and moving, I have had no time and less energy to do anything like post even a small item here on this blog.
The sale underscores why housing sales matter so much to the economy: for almost everyone, a house represents the most expensive thing we’ll ever buy or sell. Both buyer and seller write a lot of checks; as sellers, we spent thousands of dollars on landscaping, handyman services and painting, all to make the place look the best it could in a tough market (and it did look good). We also spent hundreds more on things like lawyer fees, various taxes and fees for things like changing our auto registration, our licenses, proving that our septic tank was still up to snuff (and getting it cleaned out). The excise tax at the end of the process was a couple of grand. The realtors, of course, split five percent of the sale price, a healthy fee even in the current economy, and our broker paid for advertising and other services as part of the selling process.
The buyers have to write lots of checks, too. Both of us will have to move, paying for moving boxes, movers and in our case storage for things we didn’t bring, but don’t want to have to pay to replace when we move to someplace bigger than our apartment. We paid for paint for the apartment (never mind why) and also asked for, and got, the washer and dryer replaced (why the previous tenants had tolerated a washer with a broken drum is beyond me). There are always unexpected expenses, too — somehow, my blue suit did not make the move. I’ll have to replace that; a man can’t be without a blue suit. Home sales touch wide swaths of the economy.
I’ll try to post more regularly again. I started my Nieman Fellowship today, and a year at Harvard may prove equally as time-consuming (I’m already doing homework and the school year hasn’t started yet). I met my fellow Fellows today, and am humbled to be among their number. What an incredible group of journalists!